Nolan, Clive & Wakeman, Oliver - Dark Fables,
This is a somewhat unusual release in that it is not really a complete album as such, but rather a gathering together of bits and pieces. Originally released as part of the ‘Tales by Gaslight’ boxed set, which also features the other two albums by Nolan and Wakeman, ‘Jabberwocky’ and ‘Hound Of The Baskervilles’. This includes songs which did not make it onto those albums, including Rick Wakeman narrating “The Jabberwocky”, as well as thirty minutes of music that was originally conceived for the abandoned ‘Frankenstein’ album. As well as both musicians obviously providing stellar keyboards, we also have performances from performances from Gordon Giltrap, Paul Manzi (The Sweet, Arena, Oliver Wakeman Band). Andy Sears (Twelfth Night), Karl Groom (Threshold), David Mark Pearce (Oliver Wakeman Band, Munroe’s Thunder) and Charlotte Dickerson.
In many ways this is almost impossible to review, in that it is a collection of rarities as opposed to a single considered concept, and one cannot be sure what would have been left in the final version of the ‘Frankenstein’ release, while the songs from ‘Hound’ seem somewhat strange to me in that I know the original album so very well indeed. This actually fits much better as part of the ‘Tales by Gaslight’ set, as there one understands this is more of a “bonus disc” than an album in its own right. It certainly pales when compared to the other two albums, and if someone heard this without the others they may come away with some false impressions as although there are some wonderful moments on here, such as “Why Do You Hate Me?” where Frankenstein’s monster questions why he exists, this is going to be mostly for already-existing fans who will be pleased to finally have this material available.
Consequently, many will pass this album by which is a real shame as songs such as “The Wedding Approaches” show the guys at their most delicate with some wonderful female vocals, while Andy Sears puts in a wonderful performance on the dramatic and crunching “Time Passes” – his vocal prowess has continued to increase since the first time Twelfth Night called it a day, and this is a blast from start to end.
If one already has the other two albums then this should be invested in, but otherwise get the set and have them all in one place.